Electrical Contracting News (ECN) March 2017 - Page 30

FEATURE DIGITAL DEVELOPMENTS TECHNOLOGICAL ADVANTAGE Scott Chesworth, operations director at RAM Tracking, explains why electrical contractors should be harnessing technology to spark profitability. Social media can provide a quick and easy way of attracting new customers. With strong practical knowhow, the ability to problem solve and the communication skills necessary to liaise effectively with customers, electricians have little reason to fear replacement by robots in the near future. However, within a competitive industry where customers have never had more choice when it comes to picking someone to install and maintain their electrical systems, it is essential that engineers harness available technologies to increase profit margins and gain a much needed edge over their competitors. Smartphone Apps Ensuring that electrical contractors always have a range of handy features at their fingertips, industry tailored smartphone Apps are an essential addition to any contractor’s toolbox. With Apps now available which allow electricians to download essential documents, such as guidance notes, design guides and codes of practice straight to their smartphones, it has never been easier for electricians to get clarification regarding on-the-job questions without the need to carry around heavy textbooks. With a number of Apps also performing calculations such as cable selection and volt drop quickly and accurately, smartphones are an invaluable source of assistance during the maintenance process. Yet, as every successful electrical proprietor knows, good customer service is just as important as quality of work when it comes to securing positive word-of-mouth and encouraging customer retention. By providing a handy platform for electricians to build and manage all of their customer quotes in one place, electrical companies are able to become more efficient when dealing with customers, encouraging increased satisfaction levels and bringing in more business. Vehicle tracking systems Electrical companies rely heavily on their fleets to respond promptly to customer call-outs. It goes without saying that electrical safety is a matter that should be taken very seriously, and it is essential that electricians respond to issues at the earliest possible opportunity to protect customers as well as ensuring provision of a quality service. Telematics systems can play an essential role in rapidly responding to customer call-outs, allowing managers to quickly and easily locate those vehicles closest to a job. By arriving to a job as quickly as possible, electricians can be confident that they are boosting the overall customer experience. In addition to this, with traffic jams in the UK’s most congested towns and cities costing businesses approximately £768m each year, electrical firms that use real time data to increase proficiency and reduce fuel costs stand to gain a significant advantage. Providing managers with information about the most effective routes to take, tracking software offers electrical businesses a new level of control over their mobile assets. With the ability to receive notifications when vehicles are idling due to traffic, vehicle telematics makes it possible to increase productivity by finding alternative routes, while informing customers of delays in advance, helping to build trust and improve customer satisfaction. With customers increasingly demanding accurate arrival times, real time data is becoming more important than ever, making the ETA planner a valuable element of tracking software. By monitoring the speed of each vehicle, tracking software also provides the information needed for drivers to adopt more fuel efficient habits, such as reducing speed, avoiding harsh breaking and decreasing idle time – allowing companies to cut costs on the road and maximise profit margins. Social media Within the electrical industry, reviews and personal recommendations have always been integral to a company’s success. However, with the rise of social media in recent years, word-of-mouth has become much more significant. Platforms such as Twitter and Facebook allow customers to provide positive or negative feedback on work undertaken at the touch of a button, but rather than being fearful of the digital revolution, electrical firms should actively encourage dialogue with customers online to build trust and nurture relationships. By choosing a channel that is relevant for their audience, Industry tailored smartphone Apps are an essential addition to any contractor’s toolbox. sharing useful and engaging content and responding efficiently to comments and queries, electrical engineers can enhance their service offering and foster long term, truly profitable relationships. As well as allowing contractors to maintain two-way conversations with existing customers, social media also serves as a highly cost efficient marketing tool, providing a quick and easy way of attracting new customers by increasing brand awareness and promoting work. When deciding on which social channels to use, electrical contractors should first consider their objectives, for example, visual platforms such as Instagram and Flickr can be an effective way of displaying the high quality of electricians’ workmanship while networks such as Facebook provide a great way of interacting with new and existing customers. While the fundamental practical skills involved in electrical installation may have changed very little for many years, the latest advancements in digital technology can help contractors to boost productivity and improve their service offering across several areas of their business. In today’s competitive market, it is likely that those engineers who can embrace and take advantage of these developments will stay ahead of their competitors and keep business coming in. 30 | March 2017